MLS avoids lockout as players, league ratify new CBA
The MLS Players Association and Major League Soccer have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that will run into the 2025 season, avoiding a lockout as Atlanta United's first team players initially skipped voluntary small group training sessions that were set to start this week.
The Five Stripes later began voluntary small group training sessions on Thursday, and all of their players were present.
They also approved a plan to restart the 2020 season, put on hold on March 12 due to the pandemic. However, details about the MLS' return to play at Disney World in Orlando were still being finalized.
Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz was a part of the negotiations with the league about the tournament setup in Orlando.
The MLS has not released details, but Larentowicz said he is expecting that on June 24, teams currently not allowed to hold group training in their home markets arrive in Orlando. The Five Stripes expect they won't have to go this early because they will be allowed by local officials to train here. Then on July 9, the tournament would start.
Atlanta United president Darren Eales said that all 26 teams would be there by this point and would put into groups to play round-robin games in a format similar to the World Cup. Those games would count as regular-season MLS games towards the standings. There would then be a knockout round of games not counting towards the standings.
After the tournament, Larentowicz said MLS Commissioner Don Garber told him that they would only have time to play nine regular-season games after the tournament before playoffs.
Larentowicz said now that a deal has been reached, player safety is totally in the hands of the MLS, but he still has plenty of questions.